Trump arrives in New York for arraignment on criminal charges

Journalists flock to cover former US president's historic court appearance

Former president Donald Trump arrives at Trump Tower. AP
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Former US president Donald Trump returned to his native New York on Monday for a court appearance over his role in an alleged hush-money payment that was made to an adult film star in 2016.

Mr Trump flew to New York on his private Boeing 757, also known as Trump Force One and emblazoned with his name, from Palm Beach International Airport in Florida.

Mr Trump, a Republican seeking to regain the presidency in 2024, is the first former US president to face criminal charges. He is due to be arraigned on Tuesday in Manhattan.

"Witch hunt, as our once great Country is going to hell," Mr Trump posted on Truth Social, his own media platform, before his departure. He also said he was headed to New York to "Make America Great Again".

Mr Trump is already months into a third campaign to reclaim the White House he lost to President Joe Biden in 2020, and he and his advisers seemed to relish the attention.

Cable networks followed his plane at airports in Florida and New York with video from the air.

Dozens of Trump fans cheered at the Florida airport and along the route he took to get there, carrying signs and flags.

"Our country needs him," said Cindy Falco, 65, of Boynton Beach, Florida. "He's pro-God, pro-family and pro-country."

Ms Falco predicted exoneration, telling Reuters: "Nothing is going to stick to him."

One of his sons, Eric Trump, tweeted that he was on the plane while watching news coverage of the event.

Authorities in New York are taking elaborate security precautions ahead of Tuesday's unprecedented arraignment.

Throngs of journalists have descended on Manhattan, with news crews awaiting Mr Trump's arrival at Trump Tower and already jostling for position outside the courthouse.

Police have installed barricades at both sites and several streets will be closed off.

Mr Trump is due to surrender to authorities on Tuesday morning in a historic first. No former or sitting American president has been criminally charged before.

Details will not be made public until his arraignment, but he faces several charges of falsifying business records, including at least one felony offence, in the indictment handed down by a Manhattan grand jury last week.

The investigation is focused on a $130,000 payment made to Stormy Daniels in 2016. A payment to former Playboy model Karen McDougal is also thought to be part of the investigation.

Both say they had sexual encounters with a married Mr Trump years before he got into politics.

Donald Trump departs for New York before arraignment

Former US President Donald Trump's private airplane leaves Palm Beach International Airport in Palm Beach, Florida, US, on Monday, April 3, 2023.  Donald Trump became the first former US president to be indicted, when a Manhattan grand jury Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg had convened in January determined there was enough evidence to proceed with a case against him. Photographer: Eva Marie Uzcategui / Bloomberg

Mr Trump denies having liaisons with either woman and has denied any wrongdoing involving payments, saying the case against him is politically motivated.

He is expected to appear before Justice Juan Merchan, the judge who presided over a criminal trial last year in which Mr Trump's real estate company was convicted of tax fraud. He was not charged in that case.

A court official said the judge would decide on Monday whether to allow cameras and video in the courtroom.

The former president last week wrote on Truth Social that the judge "hates me". He has also assailed the prosecutor on the case, Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, a Democrat, calling him an "animal".

Updated: April 04, 2023, 10:23 AM